ICE Opens Three New Migrant Jails in Defiance of Congress

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reportedly opened three new detention centers in defiance of congressional orders, a move Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said vindicates her opposition to additional funding for the agency.

Mother Jones reported on Tuesday that “ICE has started using three new for-profit immigration detention centers in the Deep South in recent weeks,” despite Congress’s instructions in February to detain fewer people.

“DHS and ICE are flagrantly violating congressional orders, just as we said they would,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response to the news. The New York Democrat opposed the party leadership’s decision last month to hand the Trump administration $4.6 billion in additional border funding.

The border funding bill contained over $200 million for ICE, but it did not include additional detention money the agency requested.

“ICE is continuing to spend money it hasn’t been given,” Mother Jones reported.

According to Mother Jones:

Interviews with lawyers and prison officials and ICE records reveal that the agency has begun detaining migrants at the Adams County Correctional Center, a Mississippi prison operated by CoreCivic; the Catahoula Correctional Center, a Louisiana jail run by LaSalle Corrections; and the South Louisiana ICE Processing Center, run by GEO Group in Basile, Louisiana.

ICE has not previously disclosed its use of the Adams County and Catahoula centers, though GEO Group did announce in April that ICE would soon begin using the Basile facility. On Tuesday, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox confirmed that all three facilities started housing ICE detainees late last month. Together, the three detention centers can hold about 4,000 people, potentially expanding ICE’s presence in Louisiana and Mississippi by 50 percent.

Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, told Mother Jones that ICE’s latest expansion is “especially brazen” and said it is not clear where the agency is getting the money for the three detention facilities.

In response to news of ICE’s expansion, critics ripped the Democratic leadership for believing the agency would use appropriated funds for “humanitarian” purposes.

In a joint statement in June — before the Democratic leadership caved to Republicans and passed the $4.6 billion border funding bill — Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ocasio-Cortez said no additional funding whatsoever should go to ICE, Customs and Border Protection, or any other agencies involved in President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.

“These radicalized, criminal agencies are destroying families and killing innocent children,” the lawmakers said. “It is absolutely unconscionable to even consider giving one more dollar to support this president’s deportation force that openly commits human rights abuses and refuses to be held accountable to the American people.”